Byline: Sharon Begley
Even before their midterm debacle, Democrats couldn't pass an energy-climate bill worth the name. Prospects for legislation to free the country from dependence on petro-dictators--and put it on a path to a renewable energy-based economy--would seem, therefore, about as likely as John Boehner introducing a $700 billion stimulus bill. So why are renewable-energy advocates smiling?
Because a Republican wave swept the heartland. This region--Texas, Oklahoma, and on up to the Dakotas--is to wind power what Nebraska is to corn. The investment tax credit for building wind and other renewable installations expires Dec. 31. Once it does, those projects will come to a halt, and thousands of people who are employed in building them will be out of work. Those workers, of course, are the constituents of newly elected officials, the companies behind the projects are crucial economic engines in the districts and states of those legislators, and both are going to give their reps an earful if the projects don't resume.
So goes the thinking of experts like Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy. "There are enough Republicans in big wind-power states that they'll feel a direct economic impact" if those projects don't continue, he says. …